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UAE-India ties became stronger since Covid-19: Envoy

Dubai - Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor speaks exclusively to Khaleej Times on wide-ranging issues

By Joydeep Sen Gupta

Published: Mon 29 Mar 2021, 5:53 PM

Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Pavan Kapoor, who assumed office in October 2019, spoke exclusively to Khaleej Times on a range of issues such as bilateral ties, growing trade and commerce between the two countries, the India Pavilion at the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020, upskilling of Indian workers and how the UAE has emerged as one of the leading seats of Arab culture in the region.

This is the first part of a three-part series.

Mutual visits

The ambassador gave an insight into the recent visit to India of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and a high-power meeting with his Indian counterpart Dr S Jaishankar.

“India-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership has truly emerged stronger since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The constant, high-level, empathetic exchanges between our leaderships have ensured this outcome. In addition to several telephonic and virtual exchanges, India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar visited the UAE in late November 2020. It was his first bilateral visit overseas since the Covid-19 pandemic struck. During the visit, he met Their Highnesses Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; and his counterpart, Sheikha Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”

Sheikh Abdullah visited Delhi on February 25 and 26 and held talks with Dr Jaishankar.

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“Both leaders had an engaging conversation covering a diverse range of bilateral issues as well as issues of regional and international significance. Challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and ways to consider further cooperation in the post-pandemic phase were also discussed,” he said.

Bilateral ties in various fields

India and the UAE's bilateral ties have gained momentum amid mutual cooperation in trade, commerce, culture, heritage healthcare etc; since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014.

The envoy said: “There is a clear commitment among the leadership of India and the UAE to enhance bilateral ties.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his speech to the nation on the occasion of Independence Day on August 15, 2020, India’s neighbours are not the only ones with whom India shares geographical boundaries, but also those with whom India has close and harmonious relations. He referred to India’s strong relationship with the countries in West Asia, particularly the UAE, which further strengthened in the last few years. He personally thanked the leadership of these countries for their help to the Indian community during the Covid-19 crisis.”

He added: “Our relationship with the UAE is a multi-faceted one with deep engagements in trade and investment, tourism, food security, culture, science and technology, defence and space. Our focus will continue to be on further strengthening our comprehensive strategic partnership and exploring new areas of cooperation. Food and healthcare have emerged as important sectors of growth during the pandemic, showing how our strategic ties can adapt to the changing requirements. Energy will remain an important area of cooperation. However, we’re not only investing in each other’s energy sector but also working together for a more sustainable and climate-friendly future. We’re expanding capacities in the field of renewable energy, particularly in the field of solar energy, including through the International Solar Alliance. We're committed to working closely with the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) and will also explore possible cooperation in newer areas like the ‘hydrogen economy’. "

India Pavilion at Expo 2020

The ambassador also spoke about the India pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020.

“We greatly look forward to our participation at the Dubai Expo, which starts on October 1. We’d bring in diverse participation to the event through the India Pavilion. The work on the India pavilion is almost complete and we are hopeful of great participation from both India’s public and private sectors,” he said.

“India pavilion will showcase the face of India rising on the three pillars of opportunity, sustainability and mobility. The pavilion is one of the largest in the Expo 2020 and one of the few to have a permanent structure. India will showcase under the larger theme of Opportunity (to cover opportunity across all sectors, industry, technology, science, art and culture, covering modern-day to futuristic). The building will be divided into two parts on every floor. One part will be the India story taking the visitor through an experience and understanding of the country, while the second part will focus on business showcasing thematically by the different states of India," he added.

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